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How do you find the right salesperson to join your company?

Hire a person with coachability!

Why coachability?

In a study of thousands of salespeople from the Sales Executive Council (SEC), they found salespeople who received quality coaching would improve their long-term performance by 19%. Therefore, coachability equals success!

How can you find out if a person is coachable during an interview?

Salespeople are often grilled at the job interview stage about the sales numbers they’ve hit in previous employment, percentage of the target they won in the last quarter; or the biggest deal they closed. But by asking these questions are we really getting under the skin of who the person is? Or are we just hiring a team of repetitive robots?

One approach is to ask questions that dig into the person's character Try this:

Passion is

When was a time in your life that you needed to use grit?

We asked this question in a recent recruitment drive at Jiminny. By choosing this question, the successful candidate told her story about how she was told by her fellow teachers and peers that she wouldn’t get into her dream oversubscribed university course. Despite overwhelming negative reactions, she didn’t give up. She knuckled down with some study and applied for it nonetheless; ever more determined to reach her goal. She was so happy to tell me that she won the university place through a lot of hard work and grit (and holds it as one of her biggest accomplishments). Isn’t that someone you’d love to join your sales team?!

You could also try this question:

What is the hardest feedback you have ever received and why?

Another approach to find out if a person is coachable is by using role plays and scenarios:

actingWe suggest getting the candidate to prepare for a simple scenario in advance of the interview where the interviewer and interviewee can then roleplay. The candidate is told they can be as creative as they want and are encouraged to use their imagination. Try this:


  • Part 1 (Arrange a prospect call)

Your task is to arrange a “prospect call” with a new client who has never heard of the company or you before. Your goal is to get the person to agree to taking a meeting.


  • Part 2 (Prepare and roleplay a “mock sales call”)

Well done, the client has agreed to take your call! You have just under one week to prepare a discovery call where you will pitch for the business. You have the company’s website to use for around five screenshots making use of their videos and content on the website to make slides.

Feedback time:

feedback - penguinAfter parts one and two, we don’t assess the candidate on how they performed; instead we are interested to understand their ability to self-evaluate and listen to advice. We offer one key piece of positive feedback and one piece of constructive feedback for them to work on. We then invite them for another interview where they get to roleplay the mock sales call again. In their second chance round (which is normally quite shortly afterwards), we can see if the candidate can learn from mistakes and if they have a willingness to develop and improve by taking onboard any feedback.

For example, in a recent candidate interview, we found that on a positive note, our candidate came across friendly and charming. However, we found the discovery was a bit formulaic and didn’t create a human connection (a common mistake to make).

Her second demo (delivered only a couple of hours later) was so much improved and showed us she had digested the information and taken the feedback onboard. She spent the start of the call making conversation that allowed her to make more of a human connection before the demo. If someone can make positive improvements in such little time, imagine how they will be when they have regular sales coaching sessions over a period of time. The world is truly their oyster!

Coachable salespeople need to be receptive and open to feedback. She told us after she won the job how she loved getting feedback and even if she hadn’t got the job, she would use that new knowledge to help her with other interviews and subsequent sales calls. This showed us this person was going to be a great person to develop and a pleasure to work with!

Our Top Tips to hiring a salesperson with coachability:

  1. Ask a question that will delve into a person's character. Find out their character traits? Do they have self-awareness or resilience in their makeup?
  2. Get them to prepare a task that allows them to be creative and use their imagination
  3. Roleplay or create a scenario to converse about that will be a common daily activity

  4. Ask the candidate to self reflect and be their own personal sales coach. Ask them to share with you their own feedback
  5. Give them positive and negative feedback and ask them to perform the above task again to see how well they take your comments onboard. How do they respond to your feedback? Do they get defensive or do they welcome it? 

If you like our blog you can learn more about character traits on our video here:


For more information on Jiminny’s team collaboration software see here


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